T-Mobile wins tower-siting case in Supreme Court, local governments on notice

T-Mobile wins tower-siting case in Supreme Court, local governments on notice
T-Mobile won a significant ruling for itself, and the wireless industry at-large in the United States Supreme Court over a cell-tower dispute that traces its origins to a spat with the city of Roswell, Georgia.

In a 6-3 ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that local municipalities must provide, in a timely manner, a written explanation as to why a construction permit to build a cell-phone tower is denied.

Back in 2010, T-Mobile applied for a permit to build a 108-foot tall tower in Roswell. The city denied the permit request, but provided no further detail about the reason for the denial other than to explain that those reasons would be outlined and entered into the minutes of the next town meeting. Those minutes were provided to T-Mobile 26 days after the meeting.

Such delays are common in any given government apparatus, but T-Mobile felt that this was a violation of rules set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The initial judge agreed with T-Mobile, ruling in Team Magenta’s favor. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, overruled that victory.

T-Mobile appealed to the top court and this ruling will help clear the way for all carriers that have been pushing to expand not only the capacity of their networks, but also the physical coverage of their networks. Localities still do not need to provide specifics about a denial in the initial rejection letter, but they cannot wait a month following public hearings on the matter either.

Last October, the FCC approved new rules that are meant to accelerate a wireless carrier’s ability to build out wireless infrastructure. While it is hard to imagine anyone groaning over the prospect of better coverage and performance in their neighborhood, quite often it is those same people that want more, yet are also part of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd. This Supreme Court decision now establishes relevant case-law where lower courts have offered conflicting rulings.

sources: CNBC via FierceWireless

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6 Comments

1. shamrock

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

well, good for them..

3. fanesxx

Posts: 74; Member since: May 19, 2011

^^^^ i think that't the Idea!!!!

4. genkidama20

Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

The people complaining were probably not T-Mobile customers. Under the right circumstances and certain conditions, I'd sell you a piece of my land to put a cell tower in my backyard.

5. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

What's the big deal. How does this help carriers build towers? All this ruling does is expedite a reason why the tower is denied. It doesn't change any rules as to the reasoning for denials, so it's not easier to build out infrastructure and cities can still reject them the same way they've been doing. Not exactly a victory at all. Just a change in official paperwork...

6. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

It helps because it allows them to pursue alternate options for their network buildout instead of having to wait.

7. justForTheRecord

Posts: 51; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

Hmm ... another "Roswell" incident, eh? Bwah ha ha ...

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